The latest figures from market research specialist Mintel show the cosmetics and toiletries buy in France is now valued at €3bn, representing 6 per cent growth since 2001, closely followed by Great Britain with €2.8bn and Germany with €2.4bn.
But considering the phenomenal rates of growth in Spain, it seems that this will be the market to really watch from now on. Mintel's research shows that the market there should attain a value of €2.5bn by the end of this year, representing a growth of 26 per cent and making it the most dynamic major market in Western Europe.
Looking at the number of launches, the market in France is still being driven by innovation as consumers there strive to get their hands on the most advanced and effective formulations.
This meant that product launches in the country stood at 2057, in the year up to August 2006, compared to 1889 launches in Great Britain and 1153 launches in Spain. Germany trailed behind with 1069 during the same period, reflecting the tough retail conditions that currently prevail there.
However, when it comes to fragrances, it appears that the Spanish are spending more than anyone else. Growth in fragrance purchases came in at €1.6bn. Although that puts the country in second place behind France, it still means that individual spend is around €42 - €8 more than it is in France.
This is driven by the fact that an estimated 96 per cent of Spanish women wear perfumes, topping all other major markets in Europe. Likewise Spanish women are not said to go easy on the fragrance, with a third admitting that they perfume themselves more than once a day.
Spanish men are not left out of the equation either, with an estimated 85 per cent said to regularly wear after shave - a figure that is only matched by German males.
The Mintel report suggests that when it comes to men's fragrance, the UK and French markets show potential for further growth, with only 72 per cent of Brits and 66 per cent of French regularly splashing it on.
However, despite British men not pushing the boat out on after-shave, British women are more than making up for it with their use of make-up. Gone is the stereotype of the natural-looking English rose, says Mintel, to be replaced by lip-gloss- and mascara-wearing party girls.
As a result the British market for make-up has risen by around 40 per cent in the past five years, to reach €1.5bn, making it by far the largest major market in Europe. The nearest rival now is France, with a value of €1.2bn.
Mintel senior market analyst Michelle Strutton highlighted changing attitudes in Great Britain as being the primary reasons for the change.
"The British make-up market suffered in the 1990s as a result of the marked trend towards a 'natural' style and away from the 'made up' look, especially by younger women," she said. "But since the Millennium, glitz and glamour have made a comeback and colour once more reigns supreme, a development that has undoubtedly helped boost the industry."